We are fortunate enough to live in a country that is a major world leader, not only in economics and politics, but also in entertainment and popular culture. People all over the world watch American tv shows and listen to American music, but many people who do have never even met an American. Their only ideas of Americans and American culture is what they see on tv. Think about it: How does television and music portray your culture? That is how many people around the world view you and your culture. As an African American, I can honestly say that the media and popular culture doesn’t portray African American culture in an accurate light. From only watching tv, a non American may think that Black culture is all about poverty, the ghetto, drugs, basketball, or gyrating across a stage. While these things have a presence in our culture, this is not all that our culture is about; but to a person living in China, the media’s view of African American culture becomes their view of African American culture. The good news is that you have the ability to change international perceptions: travel. Go to different countries and meet people. Introduce them to some of the cultures that they see on tv and enlighten them about you and your way of life. I’ve found that people in different countries have tons of questions about life in the States. They are eager to tell you what they already know, as well as learn more. This is such a good learning opportunity for not only them, but for you, too. This is the moment for cultural exchange. While you are teaching them about your culture, ask questions about theirs. Learn how other people live and allow them to enlighten you. Exposure to others builds tolerance and acceptance. Tolerance and acceptance fosters peace, and more than ever, peace is just what the world needs.
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